‘If you’ve ever overcome the acid of social stigma, the euphoria of these artists speaks for you’: Monique Grbec on Gender Euphoria at the Melbourne Festival
Gender Euphoria at The Famous Spiegeltent, Arts Centre Melbourne Forecourt is a dazzling showcase of the journey from gender dysphoria to Trans euphoria.
Co-created by director Maude Davey and the velvet voiced Jazz diva Mama Alto, an ensemble of 13 magical individuals use dance, acrobatics, comedy, breath-taking poetics, and celebratory anthems to share their stories. Through their stories we dismiss the binary embarrassment of Australian politics and the bigotry that festers in too many families and schools; to embrace multi-dimensional empirical history, science and the mastery of medications, and the majesty of artists who prize truth, beauty and the survival of the brave.
Mama Alto is glorious, a glamorous goddess striking a pose, creating poetry from the banality of an automated telephone survey for election polling that arrives at the question: how does one answer the question of gender when only male or female are offered? Why are men always first? Surely, Australians are capable of seeing beyond the binary of machine logic, of thinking beyond male and female, black and white, Ford and Holden.
Actor Harvey Zielinski, kitted out in boxing silks and gloves, pounds out blow-by-blow accounts of family expectations, the numbness and ignorance of Stepford Wives rites of passage. Then, soaked in the heavy Southern drawl of Blanche DuBois, American playwright Tennessee Williams’ character in the autobiographical A Streetcar Named Desire, he creates a space to rise above oppression: “What is straight? A line can be straight, or a street: but the human heart, oh no, it’s curved like a road through mountains.”
Writer activist Nevo Zisin is the Gender Whisperer, toying with the fear mongering of Christian lobbyists. They proclaim that they are here to manipulate: to “tell you you’re… fantastic, you are loved, you are magic. You are not alone. …I will infect those old straight white men with empathy.”
Zisin, a well researched pulpit orator, hip hop pops an established trans history dating back to 1503AD; a history that has thrived through religion, politics, cultures and performance. “We are permanent, free, everywhere. … this is not a phase, or a myth. … Do not whisper, yell.” Importantly, Zisin also says: “and know that sometimes I’m small, tired and sad. Be quiet to hear.”
In The Famous Speigeltent the triumph of the Gender Euphoria family is infectious, and moments of happiness and pride bring the sting of tears. If you’ve ever overcome severe pain or the acid of social stigma, the euphoria of these artists speaks for you.
Further reading: Alison Croggon on Gender Euphoria
Gender Euphoria, Co-Creator/Director Maude Davey, Co-Creator/Performer Mama Alto; Musical Director/Performer Ned Dixon; Writers Performers Amao Leota Lu, Miss Bailee-Rose, Fury, Harvey Zeilinski, Mahla Bird, Mx Munro, Nevo Zisin, Quinn Eade; Crystal Love, Krishna Istha, Nikk Viveca; Lighting Paul Lim; Group Choreography James Welby. The Famous Spiegeltent, Arts Centre Melbourne Forecourt. Until 20 October 2019. Bookings
Wheelchair accessible event
All performances are Auslan interpreted.
Partly surtitled or includes dialogue, some background music and/or sounds.